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Dave Masterson's thoughts on technology happenings, personal experiences, travels, work, fun, etc.

Entries in Steve Jobs (3)

Monday
Sep162013

Lackluster by design?

What happened to Apple's new release? The phones that changed mobile device standards have gone through an upgrade, but who's buying? I've been past our local Apple store twice since the Friday presale event - I can tell you it's not crowded. Among my coworkers and friends, there isn't any "new iPhone buzz" like there was with past releases.

If you do not follow tech related news and rumors, some are proclaiming Apple to be past it's glory years. No more Steve Jobs influence and better competition are listed as reasons why. Can you imagine that in Steve Jobs' last months, he was silent? Doubt it. Plenty of his ideas and plans are alive in Cupertino. I believe the phone as a centerpiece of life goal had been achieved. I think Apple's next foray into other wearable devices or TV and the bizarre model we've accepted are its next big ticket items. Samsung, Nokia and others will take the phone to new heights. Apple should look to disrupt cable, sports, news and entertainment as delivered to us via large media companies. Look at what iTunes has done to music.
If you told anyone 15 years ago you could buy just the "good" songs on an artist's album, you'd be dreaming. That's what we do now, if we buy them at all - because streaming music on demand is now a great option vs owning copies of the tracks. Imagine if this were done for media? That's where I think Apple is heading. I envision them having a simple to use and feature robust TV unit, built in storage and networking. The true leap forward will be the model it tethers to - a system of on-demand free and pay-per-view programming that sends the traditional networks and media companies for a scramble. I'm sure you'll be able to control your Apple TV with your iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices, too. That's a quick iOS software update away!

The idea that tech giant Apple, with its billions of dollars in development and renowned secrecy, is out of the game is false. I believe they are setting up to change the game and the field and the players. They will not win the market share battle with the many manufacturers siding with Android phones. Apple could be lining up to break new ground in a way that only Steve Jobs could have influenced. There are too many good minds clicking away at Apple to follow Samsung around for too long. Now that we are "used to" iPods, iPhones, iPads and the Mac system, it's time for a new breakthrough that shines. On a screen a tad bit more impressive than can be held in a hand or balanced on your lap.

Thursday
Aug292013

Microsoft! HUGE opportunity, click here...


My son's laptop started crapping out the very day before school started. This is his senior year, and his school's new "tech policy" has all the students leasing an iPad from the school. Except for the seniors. They can choose the BYOD (Bring your own device) route. Which can only work if, well, you have a device. We have his usually reliable machine coughing up a lung at the least convenient time. So with a questionable hard drive, the built-in diagnostics failing, I have to troubleshoot first. I know this because the operating system's tools can't see the hard drive, it has to be replaced. We visit a Tigerdirect.com store and purchase a 500Gb drive for $59 (Crazy, huh?) and install it. Now we are at a standstill. It is naked, nude, stripped bare bones with no operating system. Where will I get one of those from? Windows disks are aggressively protected and serialized, if that what I need I'm in trouble. Unless I have some fancy downloading footwark planned on unscrupulous websites, I am stuck.  I figured our best option was to return to the "mothership" and see what our options were. Prepared for shell shock, sticker shock, or version upgrade shock, this is my equivalent of taking a car to the dealership. Yes, you trust it will be done correctly with all of the proper authorized parts, but you also run the risk of paying the highest price for this repair. With school looming and knowing he won't be borrowing my device for the semester, we fold and agree to inquire about our options.

We went to the mall and I asked the blue t-shirt clad rep how I could get help. He says I could walk over to one of the machines, make an appointment and take matters in that direction. Easy, the machines are programmed to the store's website and appointment scheduler, I ring us in for a 3:45pm meeting, just 2 hours ahead. That will give us time to go home, get the machine and return at our leisure. We do just that, no receipt, proof of purchase or warranty papers. We didn't buy this machine from the store, my son bought it on craigslist from another guy. Not a worry, our appointment is honored, we explain the problem and within 15 minutes, the Apple Genius Bar rep has a network cable plugged into the machine. This links to Apple's servers, and it's loading the version of OS-X that this computer was shipped with. No questions, no hassle and NO CHARGE! This Macbook Pro my son has is from 2009 I believe. It does not get the very latest version of OS-X, Mountain Lion, but since we purchased that upgrade already, I can log into my iTunes account and re-download that upgrade for free. Immediately. If I didn't have the Mountain Lion update on my iTunes account, the cost for the operating system that all Mac computers are using, for business or personal, is $19.99. That's not a typo or errant decimal point, twenty dollars minus a penny. Within half an hour the downloading frezy has ended and my son's laptop is ready for another year of school, and hopefully a year of two of college, also. Total cost to repair the dead hard drive was $59 plus gas to the mall. Wow.



I'm not going to rail on Microsoft vs Apple or about the customer experience. Everyone knows you can't get Windows help in person, nor can you hopscotch an operating system from one dead hard drive to a new one in 30 minutes. Someone with more of an axe to grind with the folks in Redmond can complain about that. What I see is opportunity. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, is leaving. Time for a change. Maybe they're overdue for a change... either way we know this is happening. Guess what? This is the same position Apple was in during the mid 1990s. They were struggling, Microsoft was the top dog, and a new CEO was chosen. We know what happened when Steve Jobs came back to Apple, think retail stores, the iPod, iPhone and Apple's re-emergence as a tech powerhouse. Because largely in part, the new CEO had a fresh vision and he chased it.

Microsoft is now in that role. They are profitable, but in the Ballmer years, the stock price is down more than 35%. The old model of selling software for hundreds of dollars a box is dead. They certainly have the brainpower and the resources to make big waves. Microsoft need a new leader, but more than that, they need a new plan. Or a dream to chase. Bill Gates' dream of a PC in every home became reality. What's next? Who steers the ship? All to be determined. A board of directors, Bill Gates or whoever chips-in on the selection process, they will make the choice of a new CEO. This decision could send the giant software company in any direction, up or down. I think they'd be wise to get an outsider to lead Microsoft. Have this person spend six months inventorying what's possible, then move forward. This great company has the power to bring incredible advancements to us all - the proof is everywhere. Can they or will they depends on how they handle the opportunity they're staring at today.

Thursday
Oct062011

Farewell, Great Lion

I am sad because someone I've never met passed away. I am not a full-on Apple fanboy, but I know the contribution Steve Jobs made to this world is special, I am sad to see it cut short so soon. 

For someone to redefine as many things as he did with his ideas and actions is incredible. The accolades that I've read online from so many people, both the famous and the masses, are warming and poignant. Add it up, no traditional company has made the global impact that Apple, Inc. has, especially since Steve's "comeback" in 1997. Wow.

I am inspired and driven into brief pauses and pockets of deep thought as I recall my involvement with Apple and Steve Job's products. As a computer science major in the early '80s, the "Apple Lab" in college was a special place to program. It was filled with Apple IIc and IIe computers that each had their own processors, unlike the clunky old IBM 360/370 we also got to dance with on campus. The iPod? An immediate hit with me. Seeing myself and many other folks gravitate to the MacBook series of laptops, especially after the Motorola chipsets were traded for Intel? Very fulfilling. Retail stores where customers could see, try and learn about the newest products? Groundbreaking. Now iPad and the many things we are still discovering it can serve as? Brilliant - and a product concieved out of nowhere! What an array of winners.

To watch in today's age the way in which Steve Jobs led his company was amazing. I am sure Apple will continue to innovate and produce goods of mass appeal even after the Jobs era. His methods have bred many others that churn ideas just like he did. Entrepreneurs and engineers, designers and artists that will use his tools to spring us further into the future. I know there are probably many other products on the drawing board that won't go public for years that were spawned in the mind of Steve Jobs. I can't wait to see how that unfolds.

I am sorry we loose a leader that made decisions that were iconically bold, forward-thinking and many times against the grain. Look at the man who did not call himself a visionary mind, his peers and competitors did. With his own path clear in his mind's eye, he steered his garage startup to be the most valuable tech company on Earth. That's because true visionaries see further down the path than most. Then they act on what they see. 

The final release of Apple's latest operating system is now prepackaged with all new Mac computers. Appropriately named OS X Lion, as in "King of the Jungle," it represents the best effort yet in Apple's OS X lineup. Steve Jobs was the "Lion" in Apple's lineup. He saw the future, engineered simple-to-use devices to his meticulous standards, and reinvented consumer electronics worldwide. His life's work was great for technology buffs, great for America and great for his millions of worldwide customers. Watch now as his greatest contribution spills even more innovation into our lives. He inspired many like myself to chase what they believe in rather than say, "That's good enough." His mark is unmistakeable, his contributions many, his roar heard throughout the land.

Farewell, Great Lion.